August is National Wellness Month! Wellness isn’t just about healthy eating. It is a state of health in both body and mind. We can teach and help our children to grow up with an attitude of wellness. Children have much more control over their own health than you may think.
Wellness comes from intentional practices like preventing disease, proper nutrition, and physical activity. The following four areas are a great start to focus on for teaching children about wellness.
Introduce new ways of learning. Take your child to a kids museum, an interactive event or a library. These activities encourage curiosity and the desire to figure things out (a.k.a. learning)! Even everyday outings can be opportunities for teaching children about wellness.
Limit screen time. Television time and computer time should be monitored and timed. There is a correlation between screen time and obesity, but even more so, screens cause us to limit ourselves intellectually. Remember that children model what we, as adults, do. So if we have the television on all day or we sit in front of the computer for hours on end, our children learn those behaviors.
Stress takes a heavy emotional toll on children and it’s best to remove a child from the stressful environment. Even if it might not be stressful for the child, if it’s stressful to you, your child can (and most likely will) pick up on that. Learning healthy reactions to stress early can help lessen fear and anxiety in adulthood. In addition, according to a study published by Harvard, significant stress also “threatens the function of other organ systems, leading to higher rates of hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.”
Obesity and nutrition are typically what we think of when we hear the term “wellness.” Proper nutrition and physical activity are obvious ways to positively impact our physical well-being. With so many articles and differing opinions on “proper nutrition” and the right levels of activity, it’s tough to make those choices for your children and even harder when it comes to teaching children about how those choices affect their wellness. Early childhood is when we need to develop healthy habits necessary to live healthy lives as adults.
Encouraging children to participate in an expressive activity like dancing, singing, drawing, painting, or even storytelling can help develop social and cognitive skills, enhancing a child’s social well-being. Try to have meals together as a family. This helps not only build those relationships with family but also promotes emotional and intellectual wellness too.